Friday, November 19, 2010

The wider picture..

OK, so this is really tangential to this blog but I figured that anyone looking at this can see the connection (it's towards the end :-). This is my commentary from yesterday's panel session with Alec Murphy here at OSU Geography, as part of the Geography Awareness week. Dr. Murphy presented the NRC report on "Understanding the Changing Planet: Strategic Directions for the Geographical Sciences" and I was asked to comment on some portions of it, so here goes...

"I want to acknowledge the entire group of students in my Cartography seminar this and previous years, and particularly James Baginski, Jay Knox, and Xining Yang, for providing lots of inspiration and material for this commentary. And excuse me for being very positivist, but this is truly an exceptional time to be a cartographer and geographer, so I can't help it!

As evidenced by this report, where each chapter contain information graphics, and many maps, visualization is key to communicate and understand our world. But the report also challenge us to think of better ways to observe, analyze, and visualize a changing world. This vision is not new. About ten years ago, then vice-president Al Gore outlined his vision of a Digital Earth and TWENTY years ago, Yale professor David Gelernter wrote a book called “Mirror Worlds” where he wrote:

'...someday soon: You will look into a computer screen and see reality. Some part of your world – the town you live in, the company you work for, your school system, the city hospital – will hang there in a sharp color image, abstract but recognizable, moving subtly in a thousand  places. This Mirror World you are looking at is fed by a steady rush of new data pouring in through cables. It is infiltrated by your own software creatures, doing your business.', and he went on to say...'Mirror worlds will transform the meaning of 'computer'.” (Gelernter 1991, 1)

 It is clear by now that many of the elements of what these two visions articulated have now become reality.

The idea that our real world is reflected in a 'mirror' representation is taking shape in front of us, and because of us.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Research on games goes mainstream?

I was intrigued to see the NYTimes Science section this morning with '...prognostications for science in 2011 from 10 leading figures...'one of which is Jane McGonigal, featured below and visiting our campus TODAY! so cool. She mentions a really nice GeoGame platform called GROUNDCREW -

I guess the take-home is...well... maybe that gaming is now so ubiquitous/powerful that it can't be ignored by anymore who is interested in environment - society - technology relations. We (the plugged-in part of the world) are all the cartographers of a mirror world (see Gelernter 1991). We shape it through our daily activities, consciously or not. Games will be part of that cartography as we progressively mix reality with imaginary worlds, so the games will record and also help us understand our soon to be past, present and, in my opinion, also educated guesses about our future.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A musical postcard from the past with a birds-eye view

This is cool! My past gets a postcard from my future as a map of the present zooms by. You can try it yourself...
It is a playful mix of personalized items, a decent soundtrack, and actually inspires some reflection on how I got here. In a way a GeoGame but very different than how I have conceived of it. Thanks to Markus Hernandez in my GEOG480 class who brought this to my attention.